She was sitting in her wheel chair with tears in her eyes. She looked at me, kneeling next to her on the floor, I can’t remember what we had been talking about, but then she said, “some things that are very beautiful are also very painful.” I just put my hand on her knee and breathed with her.
“It’s all real, dahling,” she said, in distress again. She was talking to one of her longest meditation students on the phone. This student wanted Ruth to “go into it” with her about what she was going through, in pain, close to death. Ruth hung up the phone looked at me, “They don’t understand!” Again, I put my hand to her knee. I didn’t say anything.
I had avoided Dhamma Dena like the plague most of my life. My father’s manipulation and abuse was so hard core I became certain I was going to ultimately lose when I was around 12 or 13. Ruth had come to the house in Santa Monica to visit, my father had her wrapped around his finger. My godmother believed that I was special. A Bodhisattva, and that I would ultimately succeed her at Dhamma Dena.
I thought that between the two of them there was no way I could keep up the lie and keep my own mind at the same time. I had been aware that I was losing my mind for years. I had severe memory loss and difficulty holding on to memories and thoughts. It was exhausting. I kept wondering to myself what I was lying about. Kept trying to remember.
So, one afternoon after school, I very purposely put myself to sleep. I lay in the bay window in my room and gazed at the palm fronds on the tree outside moving back and forth, back and forth so gracefully in the wind, and I hypnotized myself. I gave myself a very specific set of instructions. I fell into a very deep, deep sleep. I slept for hours, late into the night. It was the deepest sleep I can remember, I had been suffering insomnia and nightmares for years.
I awoke in darkness, I didn’t know where I was. I got up and walked down the hall and ran into my father. Surprised and suspicious I asked him what he was doing. He said he couldn’t sleep but was on his way to bed and that they found me deeply asleep and decided not to wake me for dinner. It was quite surreal.
I knew, however, that I had done something. And for the rest of my life fleeting glimpses of various events would haunt me but I could never open the rest of the memory, see what was inside. I knew that the real me had been buried deep inside with the intent to return someday, but I didn’t know how to wake up.
When I met a man named Rob when I was seventeen, I became convinced that he held the key. Like the story of Sleeping Beauty, through him would I reunite myself again. I would awaken.
He had recently become possessed by a demon and was desperate to find a cure. I believed him and said that I would help that I believed he also could heal. I had been to a sweat lodge at Chorro Grande once the year before and they had been quite welcoming. Sparrow had said that many people do not take to the ceremony but he expected that I was going to like it a lot and that it would not be difficult. I asked him how he knew that and he said at his age he had seen a lot. He was right, but I moved away and didn’t have the chance to return.
I told Rob about the sweat lodge and he was very interested in doing the ceremony. He hoped a medicine man might know how to cure his demon. I took him to Chorro right away and everyone was again very inviting and we immediately became regular fixtures in the community. Every weekend, up the 33 we went to Chorro to sweat and pray and eat with our new family.
I had no intention in ever living in the real world. I was on a journey to find the third option and was practicing ceremony just as I had practiced meditation, tai chi and martial arts my entire childhood. I had lived on the land in the Los Padres also and since I had only lost my home in the forest the year before, Chorro really was like home for me.
After a few months, a road man came to town and we were invited to attend our first teepee ceremony. Rob had a powerful getting well experience, he saw demons in the firebird. I too had a healing, feeling as though I was under a severe energetic attack the weeks before. After the ceremony, I felt much better. I was enamored with the Peyote fans, the incredible bead work, the beautiful songs and Sparrow taught me to pronounce Peyote correctly. P-O-T.
Rob had proposed to me, we didn’t tell anyone for a while, I said yes. We did mentioned it one day to Wolf and his wife (I can’t clearly recall her name at the moment) and she had some very specific instructions for me. She sent the men outside and sat me down in her trailer. She asked me if I was certain that I wanted to marry Rob and said I absolutely was. She seemed convinced and proceeded to instruct me to be married in a Lakota ceremony. She was Lakota and in her opinion it was the best ceremony, the best for women. It is called a blanket ceremony she said, and if I really was going to marry Rob, that is how it should be done.
So, I came outside and said that we were going to be married that way, and so, that is what came to be.
Around that same time, Wolf’s father came to Chorro to put a bunch of people on the hill. It was pretty wild. There were a lot of people going on vision fast. Rob and I stayed at Chorro for the week to be helpers. It was a glorious week. Tons of us sleeping on the floor in the main house, lots of laughter. One day, some of the women were talking to a friend of mine about doing a vision fast and I said that I would like to do one.
The women turned to me and their demeanor changed from light hearted to serious. If you want to do a fast, they said, you need to go up the road to Muhu Tasen and ask Turtle Hawk to put you on the hill. Bring some tobacco they said and ask him and he will do it.
I had no idea why I was singled out to it this way, but I do as I am told apparently, and one day soon after, Rob and I purchased some tobacco and drove out to Muhu Tasen to meet Turtle Hawk. We pulled up and met him and his wife Bonnie and all the lovely kids. Into the trailer I went with my tobacco and I asked him to put me on the hill.
He accepted the tobacco and instructed me that I would need to cleanse for six months and do hundreds of prayer ties to prepare and also several other items needed to be obtained and a located selected, cleared and prepared. We set a time in Spring when there would likely be no more snow and calculated my moon time to ensure that I would not be on my period at that time as well.
So, six months no coffee, drugs or alcohol. No problem. I found the location on the mountain and prepared the circle. I committed to three days and three nights and that is what I did. When Turtle sweated me down, he said that this was the time when he interpreted the vision, but in my case my life would reveal to me the truth of this experience so he had nothing to tell me.
I spent a couple days recovering and eating mellow foods before packing up to drive back home. Rob had been there supporting the entire time. Just as we were driving out the gate, Turtle Hawk came out and waved at up and beckoned Rob to come over and talk with him. I staying in the truck, the engine was running. They talked briefly and Rob got into the driver’s seat.
What was that about? I asked. I am not supposed to tell you, he said. Well, I guess maybe it is ok if I just tell you a little. He said that you are very powerful yet your power will not begin to show til you are forty, well a little bit starting at thirty maybe, but that I am to take care of you, watch out for you.
I had just turned eighteen and forty seemed like an eternity. We drove the long road home.